Are Higuain, Benzema and Cavani all truly upgrades on Olivier Giroud? Perhaps not!

Is he really that bad?

Is he really that bad?

One of the interesting traits of human nature is that we tend to look for confirmation of our views. We also seem to be pretty consistent in our views: that means we don’t change and adapt them each time we find out something new, something that disproves our theory.

It is normal: Thomas Bayes, an English statistician of the 18th century, described each person as an ideal observer, a definition which is now named after him – ideal Bayesian observer. If we put those who never change their opinion on one end of the spectrum and those who do so constantly on the other – ideal Bayesian observer will rest in the middle.

Why am I writing all this? To talk about a player who greatly divides opinion among the Arsenal faithful. He sometimes even swings the pendulum of his die-hard fans and his most pronounced haters the other way. Ever since I registered on Twitter (and it has been the case long before I did) he has been the cause of online fights aplenty. He even outdid Ozil. His name is Olivier Giroud.

But the Frenchman really shouldn’t be the cause of such controversy. While with Ozil it just took time to understand his subtle brilliance (might that be because Ozil is doing much of his work in grey zones?) Giroud’s contribution is there for everyone to see. Let’s start at the beginning.

Giroud celebrates scoring a magnificent goal against Liverpool

Giroud celebrates scoring a magnificent goal against Liverpool

We signed Olivier Giroud from Montpellier in the summer of 2012 for a meagre sum of 12 million. Let that sink in. Olivier Giroud cost us 12 million. It’s a good sum for a defender; we’d have high expectations for a defender with such a price tag, but its small change for a striker. For a good striker. In today’s world, a world inflated by the likes of City, Madrid and Barcelona, it’s hard to get good value for your money.

Make no mistake: Olivier Giroud is a very good striker. In fact, he’s much better than given credit for. In his three seasons, the Frenchman has scored more goals than Robin van Persie, than includes the adaptation season. Do you remember how much United paid for the Dutch Skunk? 25 million.

No shame being behind a truly world class striker

No shame being behind a truly world class striker

Right now Olivier Giroud is among the best forwards in the BPL. He is behind Aguero (who is simply world class) and Costa (cost twice as much), but everyone else? Kane probably had a better season overall, though it has to be noted Kane didn’t suffer a 3-month-long injury, thus he played considerably more. Anyway, Kane still has to prove he’s not a one-season wonder. Giroud already did that. He played three full seasons, steadily improving over their course.

This year his improvement has been phenomenal. Goals against big teams? Check. Goals from outside the box? Check. Better technique on the ball? Check.


Yet people scream “replacement”. Even Thierry Henry jumped on the bandwagon and went on record saying we won’t win the League with Giroud. Instead of asking himself why Arsenal didn’t challenge this season, he just repeated what everyone else was saying. Cause if Henry had asked that question, he’d have seen we lost the league in the period from September to November. Incidentally, Giroud was out at the time.

Moreover, I don’t like to deal with abstract situations. You want a replacement? Fine, name one. But remember it should be:

1)  A considerable upgrade

2) Available on the market

Let’s forget for a minute there are some players we simply cannot compete for even if they are available. Like Bale, for example. I don’t for a second concede we’ll be able to realistically fight for his signature even if he suddenly becomes available. Firstly because Gareth is likely to want a hefty salary and we all know Wenger won’t break his salary structure (he’s right not to); secondly because Bale cost Real 100 million. While he certainly will go for less, should the Galacticos decide to sell him, it won’t be MUCH less. It won’t be 40 million or so. Spending more at a time when other areas of our team need strengthening is, quite frankly, stupid.


Doesn’t look an upgrade on current form

Back to wanting an upgrade, however: do you see such players? Edinson Cavani, maybe? Scored 15 goals from open play in 35 games. Giroud has 14 in 27. Moreover, I didn’t like one bit what I saw from Cavani during the World Cup last year. I realise an international tournament isn’t the best way to measure someone’s true ability; however Cavani doesn’t look an upgrade to me, let alone a major one.

Big Game Bottler?

Or Gonzalo Higuain? Big game bottler, 15 goals from open play in 37 games? Does he look better than Giroud? Let’s ignore the fact he plays in Italy, which can lead to him becoming even less productive in England.


Not a major upgrade for me

Not a major upgrade for me

How about Karim Benzema, the fans’ favourite? How about the fact he’s scored only one more goal from open play, having played two more games than Giroud? Admittedly, he’s more adept at creating chances for teammates (has 10 assists to Giroud’s 3), but he a) plays in a less competitive environment b) has Cristiano Ronaldo c) disappears in big games. Yes, he still looks an upgrade, just not the one worth spending 40 million on.

I personally wanted to suggest two players: Alvaro Morata, who impressed me over the course of the semi-finals and Alexandre Lacazette. When I saw Morata’s stats I just ran away – his counterpart, Tevez, looks a much better alternative in comparison. In fact, his numbers are so good I’d seriously consider forking out some cash for Carlos and bringing him back to the BPL, if he was younger. At 31, Tevez is not the long-term solution we need.


A possibility?

That leaves us with Lacazette. Here we have a completely different set of skills to our own Frenchman and much better key stats, like goals, assists and chances created. Lacazette is just another type of forward: he plays facing the goal; he’s a dribbler and so on and so forth. You can read more about him (and his potential suitability) here.  There’s only thing that threw me off balance: out of his 27 goals (in 33 games), Lacazette scored 8 from penalties. That leaves 19 from open play, which is more or less on par with Giroud in terms of games-per-goal, (in a far less challenging league.) Nonetheless, I still think bringing in Lacazette would make us a better team: unlike the alternatives I’ve touched on above, Alexandre’s style of play is markedly different to Giroud’s AND he’s still young. He also won’t cost us 40 million; at least I don’t think he will.


On our hands we have one of the best, if not the best, back-to-the-goal striker in the whole of Europe. Even a much-lauded Benzema wouldn’t present a major upgrade, not to me at least.

Does that mean Giroud is ideal and we should just sit back and relax? No. Firstly, because Giroud is a bit one-dimensional: that means he’s almost as bad facing the goal as he’s good with his back to it. He certainly improved this season: two goals (against Liverpool and United, respectively) from outside the box and a 20% conversion rate hint he’s decent when facing the goal. I feel we can get even more from him should we put more crosses in.

However, we need an alternative to Giroud. We need someone who can play facing the goal and be successful at it. Right now all it takes is isolating Giroud and marking him tightly to render him ineffective. We’ve seen glimpses at how unstoppable we can be with a plan B: when Walcott led the line. Maybe Theo himself can become our plan B, maybe Sanchez can. If, for some reason or another, they won’t, then I’d certainly consider bringing in Lacazette.

Plan B alternatives?

But that doesn’t mean Giroud shouldn’t receive our backing. As I hope I have demonstrated, he’s one of the best at what he does. He deserves credit, a lot more than the Frenchman is currently getting.

Until later

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12 Responses to Are Higuain, Benzema and Cavani all truly upgrades on Olivier Giroud? Perhaps not!

  1. Dara June 7, 2015 at 10:27 am #

    Gonzalo Higuain plays in Italy which he can score more goals than EPL. Okay, perhaps true. You suggested two players: Alvaro Morata and Alexandre Lacazette. Sorry where does Morata plays? EPL? if you said Higuain may be not an upgrade player to Giroud because he plays in Italy and easy to score than EPL. You may suggest without thinking that Morata also players in Italy and in the big team where a lot of good midfield can pass him the bass for scoring. Do you suggest Arsenal to get him and keep him on the bench? That’s a stupid spending. He does not have much experience and may take times to adjust English football. Also, he is not a center striker, remember our wing strike, Walcott, Sanchez, OX are better than him. So, there is no need to sign him.

    Lacazette? I would say YES, but why don’t you say he plays in French league which is lower than Italian league? Be aware of your own said 🙂

    • Alex June 7, 2015 at 11:27 am #

      Read it carefully again. I don’t think Morata is the answer “I ran away when I saw his stats”.

      As for Lacazette, you are right, there’s no guarantee here, but he’s a different type of forward, his stats are WAY better than the rest and he’ll also cost less. So even if he flops, it won’t be 40 mil down the drain

  2. Mark June 7, 2015 at 10:28 am #

    Good analysing, I personaly think aubemayang from Dortmund is great option

  3. ray turner June 7, 2015 at 10:37 am #

    i agree ,,,,,good post

  4. Marcus June 7, 2015 at 10:41 am #

    Interesting point of view, I must say. But I would politely beg to differ, particularly on two points you have made.

    I completely agree that Giroud is a very good striker. And considering we paid 12 million for him, that is an absolute steal especially in today’s market (where he would be valued anywhere between 25 & 35M quid).

    That said, Benzema & Cavani represent the calibre of striker we need, just above that of Giroud’s. I will begin my argument by pointing out that stats many times do not tell thee whole story. More so when judging a player from Real Madrid, Barcelona, PSG & Chelsea.

    There is a bus load of players who hit new heights when they left these clubs (more so Real & Barca).

    Cesc – Was quite frankly average at Barca, phenomenal when he joined Chelsea

    Alexis – No comment needed

    Robben – average at Real, blew up at Bayern

    Van der vaart – Average at Real, blew up at Spurs

    Schevchenko – Was arguably the world’s best CF at AC Milan, poor at Chelsea

    The list is endless.

    Karim Benzema is one of the most complete strikers in world football. Skill, physicality, heading ability, finishing, movement, ambidexterity ..he has it all. Like so many before him, he has had to tame his goal scoring appetite in order to serve CR7. Benzema is a striker who can easily give a return of 40 goals a season & at least 15 assists, if he played in a team where he is the man to lead the line & has the confidence of the team behind him.

    Cavani is simply a goal scoring beast, provided he is given the CF role. At PSG he’s had to play 2nd fiddle to Zlatan but recently, he has began to regain his Napoli form. Which tells you everything you need to know about a player who’s had to adapt to a new role. He would be simply devastating at Arsenal.

    In my opinion, signing either of the two would make us automatic BPL contenders.

    • Alex June 7, 2015 at 11:22 am #

      I agree, stats don’t tell the whole story. Cavani and Benzema can be successful at Arsenal, more than they are at their current clubs. However, I have an image of Falcao before my eyes… Hard to tell, really. I trust AW’s judgement. If her splashes on any of these two, they’ll likely kill it in the BPL. As for me, I merely pointed to the fact both had roughly the same season (statistically) as Giroud

  5. Ray June 7, 2015 at 12:44 pm #

    Edin Dzeko is the striker Wenger should have signed 2 years ago!

    It’s like upgrading your phone – he is like Giroud, just better:

    Taller, faster, stronger, better at holding up the ball, better finisher, much better with his non-dominant foot than Giroud.

    • Gabriel August 28, 2015 at 1:50 pm #

      Nice point. I thought I was the only thinking this way. Dzeko has gone on loan now but before he left, getting him would have made a lot of difference!

  6. ziich June 8, 2015 at 7:16 am #

    Calling higuain a big game bottler is very harsh. he has scored against the big teams and in big matches. speaking of bottling, Monaco ring a bell?

    Now on to the matter of another striker. Do we really need one? Arsenal and chelsea both scored 109 goals this season (in all comps).
    Taking a look at our personnel we will not buy a striker unless someone leaves.
    In walcott and giroud we have two very different game plans
    In welbeck we back up in case anything happens to either one.
    To me the most important position we need to find cover for is dm

  7. Awolowo Olumide June 13, 2015 at 10:56 pm #

    Interesting piece, but would have loved you to have been a little more elaborate on Higuain. Wenger always bangs on about a certain quality of strikers, which is -“the ability to create something out of nothing”. I’m not sure he’s ever said that about Giroud, and I think that’s what this team is lacking upfront.

    I initially thought Sanchez would be our new CF but it remains to be seen if that’s where Arsene sees him next season.

    For now, Higuain seems available and I think bringing him in will not only see us mount a serious PL challenge but he could also be the difference maker in the UCL.

    NB: He scored more goals than Costa this season, in relatively the same no. of games and Costa has been regarded as an immense success by many.

    • Dave Seager June 13, 2015 at 11:00 pm #

      Write one yourself matey. We miss you. Dave

  8. MATADOR August 26, 2015 at 4:10 pm #

    Higuain plays in the SERIE A where defenses are much more organized and tougher to breach than the Premier League,Therefore your point on the weaker league is pointless…………Also Edinson Cavani plays on wings with Ibra playing as the main striker,therefore you cannot compare Giroud’s and Cavani’s stats just like that……….Another point Cavani,Higuain,Morata serve the team much more than Giroud does,Giroud is just a Poacher who needs supply,if you cut off the supply he’s pretty much useless, while the other strikers on the list have the ability to win matches by themselves.

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